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Pitching In Southern Premier League Central

Stratford Town

Sammons (73)

Hednesford Town

(0) 1

(0) 0



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Carter Lycett



AFC Rushden & Diamonds (A) 26.2.22

Despite enjoying plenty of possession over the ninety minutes, Hednesford are condemned to defeat at Knights Lane by a speculative Ashley Sammons strike in the second half - their first defeat in seven games

Having seen their past two games called off due to the recent stormy weather, the Pitmen returned to action with only one change to the side that had drawn at Redditch United ten days previously as Martin Riley was ruled out after dislocating his shoulder in the previous game as was replaced by debutant centre-back Harvey Portman, who had arrived at the club recently from Stourbridge. Riley O'Sullivan had shaken off his recent injury issues to take his place amongst the substitutes

Stratford had also seen their fixtures affected by the weather as Saturday's home game against struggling Hitchin Town was postponed due to the high winds and wet conditions. Manager Tom Flowers made two changes to his side from the one that had drawn 0-0 at Nuneaton Borough last time out as Melis Bushaj and Leroy Lita replaced Dan Lafferty and Jack Storer

On a cold evening in Warwickshire and in front of a crowd of just over 300, the Pitmen made a break down the right through the lively Tilt in the second minute; the winger's cross drifted across the face of goal and out of play with Landell and Bennett just unable to meet the ball in as it dropped wide of the post

Landell was denied a shot at goal two minutes later by a late offside flag on the far side of the pitch as he raced onto Kyle Bennett's through ball but was pulled back by referee Mr Cooke as he entered the penalty area after making too early a run into the box

Stratford's first sight at goal also saw them denied by an offside flag in the eighth minute as a Sammons free-kick into the box was headed just wide by Jordan Williams, but the Pitmen were handed a free-kick as Williams was adjudged to have been offside as the kick was taken

That familiar defensive indecision we have seen from the Pitmen this term was in effect once more in the tenth minute as the men in sky blue failed to clear their lines as Lita put the young defence under pressure and forced a hurried clearance to Sammons, whose low shot from the edge of the penalty area was just wide of goal

Veteran Lita was proving a handful for the Pitmen, chasing the ball down and hurrying the Pitmen into mistakes. His low shot in the fourteenth minute took a deflection and required on-loan Joe O'Shaughnessy to turn the ball behind for a Stratford corner

Two minutes later, skipper Will Grocott - a former target of the Pitmen's three years ago - had a half-chance on the edge of the penalty area as he fired wide of goal after being afforded too much space just outside the box

A mazy run from George Cater on eighteen minutes saw the winger make one of his surging runs across the face of the Stratford penalty area before playing a one-two with Bennett and losing the ball at the crucial moment before he could shoot

Stratford defender Jack Turner was the first player to have his name taken in the evening by Mr Cooke a minute later as he brought the flying Cater down to the left-hand side of the penalty area and was rightly booked for the foul

Left-back Carter Lycett and Cater combined well on the left twenty-four minutes as Lycett's throw-in was crossed by Cater to the far post, where Bennett met the ball and laid it off to Landell, whose shot was blocked

Patient play from the Pitmen saw them work the ball across the pitch on twenty-six minutes as Reece Flanagan, Tilt and Wes Atkinson combined down the right-wing to cross for the neat and tidy Bennett, whose low effort was hacked clear by Williams

On the half-hour mark, the Pitmen had the best chance of the game so far as Lycett picked Sammons' pocket and played the ball through to Cater down the left in acres of space; the winger pulled the ball back from the byeline and found the incoming Flanagan whose half-volley forced O'Brien into a great save as he tipped the ball away before Stratford saw the ball out of play

Dawes followed Turner into the book for the home side on thirty-four minutes as he was shown a yellow card for deliberately stopping the visitors from taking a quick throw-in down the left flank

The hosts were forced into making their first change of the evening due to injury five minutes before the break as Ross Oulton limped off the pitch and was replaced by Lafferty

On forty-four minutes, Lita picked the ball up and teed up substitute Lafferty on the edge of the Hednesford penalty area, only for the Stratford number twelve to shank his effort high and wide of goal

Lafferty was lucky not to follow his team-mates into the book with the final action of the half as he crudely brought Portman down as the defender looked to clear his lines but escaped a booking from Mr Cooke

The Pitmen had shaded the first half on chances, although they had been limited to the one good effort from Flanagan that had forced O'Brien into a good save late on in the half; otherwise, the visitors had enjoyed plenty of possession but had not turned this into many chances of note, whereas Stratford had offered only a sporadic threat through the likes of Lita and Sammons

The visitors made the brighter start of the two sides in the second period and had a half-chance through Dawes on fifty-eight minutes as his shot was deflected behind by Ison and just out of the reach of the incoming Lita

The Pitmen struggled to clear their lines in the early stages of the second period, with Dawes and Lita both winning free-kicks in the Hednesford half but were wasteful from the resultant kicks as the visitors cleared their lines

On fifty-four minutes, Bennett made a run down the right-wing and sent over a deep cross to Cater, who was perhaps guilty of not showing a decisive nature as he elected to tee up for Landell from six yards out rather than shoot himself, with Turner eventually blocking the striker's low shot

The Pitmen's first substitution of the evening came ten minutes into the second half as recent signing Lewis Hayden was given another chance to impress in midfield as he replaced the peripheral figure of Tilt

Three minutes later, Lycett's corner kick was cleared as far as Parker, who managed to work the ball back to Lycett on the left-hand side of the penalty area - the youngster's worked the ball into the penalty area and struck an angled effort at goal that was well saved by O'Brien

Cater's run into the Stratford penalty area on the hour mark saw him dart past the Bards defenders as he latched onto Landell's through ball, but another offside flag against the winger denied him as his lob over the head of O'Brien drifted wide of the target

More good wing play from Cater two minutes later saw the winger make a run down the left and pulled the ball back into the path of Landell, who was guilty of a terrible off-target shot as his first-time effort failed to test O'Brien from six yards out. A poor miss from a player struggling to recreate his early season goalscoring form

Three minutes later, ex-Hednesford man Sammons had a good chance to get on the end of a free-kick from Dawes as he made a run into the box to get on the end of the deep cross, but could not direct his header goalwards and the ball sailed harmlessly wide

A good move from the hosts on sixty-eight minutes saw the ball worked wide to Dawes, who in turn played a ball into the path of Sammons, whose goalbound shot was deflected wide of goal by the impressive Portman

The visitors' second substitution of the game came with twenty minutes remaining as the fit-again O'Sullivan returned to the side as he replaced Bennett - this saw Landell drop into a deeper role to accommodate the target man's introduction

Out of absolutely nowhere, the hosts took the lead on seventy-three minutes as Sammons scored from long-range, picking the ball up thirty yards from goal and unleashing a shot that beat O'Shaughnessy and ended up nestling in the back of the net after hitting the base of both posts before rolling over the line

O'Sullivan struck a shot on the turn just wide for the Pitmen on seventy-five minutes on the clock with his first involvement as the away side looked for an immediate response

Two minutes later, a great from Dawes saw him make a run down the left-wing and beat Atkinson before setting up Grocott, whose shot from the edge of the penalty area was pushed away by O'Shaughnessy

Ison caused the Pitmen some concern with eleven minutes of the game remaining as he stayed down after a clash in the Hednesford half. After receiving treatment from therapist Shannon Kincade, the skipper was forced off and was replaced a minute later by fit-again Josh Endall in central defence

Patient build-up play from the Pitmen down the right on eighty-two minutes saw Endall, Flanagan and Portman combine to play the ball out to Lycett on the left, with Lycett returning the ball to the incoming Flanagan whose shot was deflected behind for another Hednesford corner kick

The tricky Dawes continued to lead the Pitmen a merry dance, tricking his way down the left and earning his side a corner kick on eighty-six minutes as he teased his way past Atkinson and attempted a cross towards Lita

O'Sullivan won a free-kick for the Pitmen to the right-hand side of the Stratford penalty area two minutes later, with Lycett's resulting free-kick partially cleared by the Stratford defence before Cater wasted the opportunity to return the ball into the box from the left

Stout defending from Stratford in the second minute of added time saw the home side clear their lines as the Pitmen played Cater in via a pass from O'Sullivan, only for the winger to overrun the ball and allow the men in orange to clear away from danger

Despite enjoying long spells of possession, the Pitmen left Warwickshire empty-handed after ninety frustrating minutes where they had lacked in the final third against a steady but unspectacular Stratford side who won their first game in five attempts to move level on points with today's visitors. This weekend sees the Pitmen on their travels once more as they travel to in-form play-off chasers AFC Rushden & Diamonds

Stratford Town: O'Brien, Vann, Bushaj, Oulton (Lafferty 40), Turner , J. Williams, Wilson (James 62), Sammons, Lita, Grocott ©, Dawes ▆       Subs Unused: Fry, O'Regan, Tellyn

Hednesford Town: O'Shaughnessy, Atkinson, Lycett, Portman, Ison © (Endall 80), Flanagan, Tilt (Hayden 55), Parker, Landell, Bennett (O'Sullivan 70), Cater      Subs Unused: Ebbutt, R. Williams

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